or prevent them. They havernagreed together to ignore in therneoming eampaign every issue. . . .rnIn this crisis of human affairs thernintelhgent working people andrnproducers of the United Statesrnhave come together in the namernof justice, order and society, to defendrnhbcrty, prosperity and justice.rnClyde Wilson is a professor of history atrnthe University of South Carolina.rnThe Russian Frontierrnby Gregory McNameernThe Conquest of a Continent; Siberiarnand the Russiansrnby W. Bruce LincolnrnNew York: Random House;rn500 pp., $30.00rnAmerica, the historian Frederick JacksonrnTurner had it, is a land definedrnby its frontiers, once inexorably westward-rnlending, led by Manifest Destiny.rnThe cultural geographer Carl OrtwinrnSauer gave Turner’s “frontier thesis” arntwist that denizens of the New West willrnappreciate: “The westward movementrnin American history,” he wrote, “gavernrise to the real estate boom, made landrnthe first commodity of the country andrnproduced the salesman promoter. It wasrnthe latter rather than any public officialrnwho planned and directed the settlementrnof new lands.”rnSome readers may be surprised tornlearn that it was thus in Russia as well:rnthat entrepreneurs and developers, individualrnand corporate, directed therngrowth of that nation to its eastern frontiers,rnfinding in the endless taiga andrnforests of Siberia the material basis forrna vast empire. W. Bruce Lincoln’s ThernConquest of a Continent addresses thernrich history of the Russian frontier in thernbroad sweep of 500 pages. While hernnecessarily glosses over much that is ofrndeeper interest, he gives us the best outlinernof Siberian history now available tornreaders in English.rnRussia had long known the east, fromrnwhence came a wave of fearsome invaders:rnMongols and Tatars, the cavalriesrnof Temujin and Tamur the Lame. Theyrnburned their way into European Russianrnmemory from the verv first; one of Russia’srnearliest histories is by the Chroniclerrnof Voskresensk, whose pages recount arncountryside where “nothing could bernseen but smoking ruins and bare earthrnand heaps of corpses.”rnIt took a Russian of like fury to sendrnthe Colden Horde packing, and thernthen-ruling Stroganov merchant classrnfound their champion in one ErmakrnTimofeevich, a Cossack who had hithertornromped across Poland putting therntorch to all that lay before him. Ermakrnwas a crude man but a brilliant tactician,rnand in short order he defeated arnmighty Tatar army on the banks of thernIrtvsh River, which secured most ofrnSiberia for Russia as early as 1582. Ermakrnlater drowned in that same river,rnpulled to its unfathomable bottom byrnthe weight of his armor during anotherrnfight with the Tatars; his successorsrnfought mainly guerrilla wars against nativernarmies for another century, but Ermak’srndeeds made their work relativelyrnsimple.rnLincoln goes on to offer a lively precisrnof the history of Siberian exploration,rnrecounting the crucial expeditions ofrnSteller and Bering, of Fedorov andrnKrasheninnikov, whose work extendedrnRussia’s eastward reach as far as NorthernrnCalifornia. (Strangely, Lincoln overlooksrnthe 19th-century mapping expeditionsrnof Peter Kropotkin, the prince whornbecame one of anarchism’s great theoreticians.)rnThat record of exploration isrnspottier than Lincoln—or a homegrownrnRussian chauvinist, for that matter—rnmight like to admit. Kamchatka’s coastlinernwas mapped in the 1730’s, but therninterior contours of Siberia were notrnthoroughly charted until the last decade,rnand even then parts are not well knownrntoday.rnThe comparative study of frontiers isrnstill nascent (we need a scholar to analyze,rnfor example, the histories of bothrnNew Spain and Roman Iberia, lookingrnfor structural similarities), but BrucernLincoln does not shy from drawing parallelsrnbetween the Russian and Americanrnfrontier experiences. While noting thatrnRussia’s eastward movement began a fullrncentury before America’s westward forays,rnhe looks carefully at the way the Californiarnand Alaska gold rushes mirrorrnthose of Tomsk (1828) and lakutskrn(1840), all propelled by men who, as arnRussian journalist put it, “were withoutrnthe fear of Cod and without feelings ofrnshame.” That recklessness, Lincolnrnnotes, allowed the buffalo hunters of thernGreat Plains and seal hunters of thernSiberian seaboard alike to drive species tornthe brink of extinction within two generations’rntime.rnLincoln uncovers many little-knownrnepisodes in Siberian history. For one,rnhe takes a fond look at the Russian-bornrnintellectuals who founded a Siberian separatistrnmovement to resist Nicholas II’srnplans to build a trans-Russian railroad;rnthose intellectuals knew that oncernSiberia was bound to Moscow by an ironrnrail, an iron fist would quickly follow.rn(They were right, of course, as theyrnlearned when Siberia was absorbed intornfirst the Russian and then the SovietrnEmpire and finally transformed into arnvast penal colony.) Lincoln’s studv ofrncensuses shows that from 1897 to 1911rnmore than three and a half million EuropeanrnRussians crossed the Urals intornSiberia. He has mastered archival andrnoral-historical literature, and his book isrnrich with anecdotal notes—of, for instance,rna Red Armv machine-gunner’srnterror at facing battle-hardened WhiternCuards for the first time in the impenetrablernforests of Transbaikalya.rnSimilarly, Bruce Lincoln is attentive tornthe fine details that make history—andrnthat make history come alive. He givesrnus an exact list of a Mongol cavalryman’srneffects (“a cuirass of thick leather… arnfur or sheepskin coat, a fur hat with earrnflaps, felt socks, heavy leather boots . . .rndried meat, ten pounds of dried curds, arnleather bottle filled with two liters of fermentedrnmare’s milk, at least two quivers,rneach with a side pocket with a file forrnsharpening arrows, an awl, and a needlernand thread”); he quotes tellingly from arnminor 19th-century exile’s diary, notingrnhis disgust at the village life of the nativernlakuts and at the lack of Russian companionship;rnhe tells us that the shimmeringrnfur of the Russian sable gave risernto the ancient story of the ColdenrnFleece, remarking that “this small animalrnthat was scarcely larger than a houserncat became the magnet that pulled thernRussians across the entire Eurasian continentrnbefore 1650.” In such details, thernTalmudists said. Cod resides. In whateverrnevent, they make for consistentlyrnengaging reading.rnSiberia remains a land of greatrnpromise, pockmarked, to be sure, bv radioactivernwaste dumps and forgottenrn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn